Schilling (12-3, 3.50 ERA) goes for the mark the day after teammate Josh Beckett became the first to 13 in Monday’s 7-3 win. The two have a friendly competition going to see if they can continue matching strides while trying to help the Red Sox to the AL East title.
“I’ve always enjoyed pitching in a rotation where guys compete like that,” Schilling said. “Early in the year, I went to Josh and said, ‘Let’s go. Pick it up. I don’t want to finish one (win) ahead. You are going to win tomorrow and we’ll be tied.’ Now it’s on. I’ve always enjoyed being in a rotation where you can do things like that.”
The 39-year-old right-hander—who had Randy Johnson as such a partner in helping the Arizona Diamondbacks win the 2001 World Series—has a good chance to keep it going against the A’s, whom he limited to two hits in seven innings while striking out nine in a 7-0 win July 15 at Fenway Park. Schilling will be making his first-ever start at Oakland, where he made two relief appearances in 1990 while pitching for the Baltimore Orioles.
Schilling has struggled away from Boston this season, going 4-3 with a 4.14 ERA in 12 starts. He is 8-0 with a 2.71 ERA in nine outings at Fenway, including a win in his last start—a 6-4 victory Thursday over the Texas Rangers.
“I felt good,” Schilling said after allowing four runs and 10 hits in seven innings. “I felt strong. They hit some good pitches, they hit some bad pitches. I didn’t feel like I had to battle as bad as I had to battle…”
Toronto’s Roy Halladay also will be trying for his 13th win Tuesday when the Blue Jays play Seattle.
Having Beckett and Schilling at the top of the rotation has helped the Red Sox (60-39), who are 2 1/2 games ahead of the New York Yankees—who play at Texas on Tuesday—in the AL East.
Red Sox DH David Ortiz provided yet another big hit Monday, his major league-leading 34th homer, and also increased his RBI total to a major league-best 95. The 2005 AL MVP runner-up has 23 homers and 52 RBIs on the road while batting .293.
“I’m a better hitter on the road,” Ortiz said. “Fenway is not an easy place to hit. Fenway takes away home runs.”
The A’s (51-48) hope rookie Jason Windsor (0-0, 1.80) can stop the Red Sox and keep the team in first place in the AL West. The 24-year-old right-hander allowed three runs—one earned—and five hits in his major league debut, but did not get a decision in Oakland’s 5-3 loss July 17 to Baltimore.
“I felt like I was getting stronger as the game went on,” said Windsor, who threw 86 pitches. “I will settle down next time. It’s a lifelong dream to get here, and now I want to stay a while.”
He hopes to help the A’s reclaim sole possession of first in the division after falling into a tie with the Los Angeles Angels, who defeated Tampa on Monday. The Rangers are only one-half game behind both teams in the tightly packed division race.
The A’s may need Frank Thomas to snap out of a 1-for-12 (.083) slump if they are to get through the series atop the AL West. The designated hitter has just one homer in his last 14 games, but the “Big Hurt” has gone 16 games without a homer against the Red Sox since Sept. 24, 2002, when he played for the Chicago White Sox.